5 Tips for Kids/Teens Going Back to School with Food Allergies:
1. Attitude is everything so go into the school year with a positive mindset - Everyone always seems to worry about what others will think of them when first going to school. Having food allergies may make you feel different but it's usually something only you worry about! Attitude is everything so go into the school year with goals. Set goals to make new friends or just get excited to see the ones you currently have! Don't worry so much about your food allergies because there is so much more in the school your to get excited about. If you show that your food allergies don't bother you then it won't bother anyone else either. Eating food is apart of life and it's only a small part of the school year you have ahead.
2. Be prepared to deal with bullies but don't let them get to you - Bullies are the one thing most kids and parents worry about most when it comes to food allergies. At one point or another you're going to deal with bullies at some point in your life, even if it doesn't have to do with food allergies. The one thing you can do is at least get prepared. Start off by not giving bullies anything to bully you about. So what you eat a little differently than they do? It's just food! If it ever does get to the point of physical harm then it's definitely time to get a teacher or adult to help, but just show that it doesn't bother you and that there's really nothing to make fun of. In the end, they will be the ones looking ridiculous making fun of someone for the way they eat.
3. Always have some type of food available for you to eat - Whether it's for lunch, a snack, or a school party, make sure you are always prepared! There's tons of great gluten-free products out there to make it easier! Get parents to get involved or even get the school cafeteria to get involved too! I've heard that a lot of kids have actually been able to get the cafeteria to add special gluten-free options to their lunch program. It's worth a shot to try but I always recommend having some type of snack available throughout the day just in case you need it.
4. Know your body best and have a plan if you accidentally get sick - There have been a few times in school where I got glutened very bad and tried to make it through my day. I'll say from experience that it's usually not a good idea at all to do that, especially if you have more severe allergies. If you know you've accidentally gotten glutened or ate a food you shouldn't have, don't try and push yourself through the day. Recognize when you're feeling bad and make sure all the teachers / nurses know about your allergies too. Make sure you have some plan to let someone know you need to go home or to the nurse to get yourself feeling better. Your health should always come first.
5. Don't be afraid to share about food allergies...it's something that makes you unique - The thing I see that upsets me the most is when kids with food allergies are afraid or embarrassed to share it with others. To me it's absolutely not anything to be ashamed about! As hard as dealing with food allergies may be, it's something that makes you unique and who you are. Your food allergies shouldn't define you but it is definitely something that's apart of your life. From my experience, if you share about your food allergies with confidence, many people will actually take interest rather than make fun of you for it. Be proud of who you are and don't be afraid to share about your food allergies with others! Some of the best friends I've made are the ones that know the whole me including the food allergy side. It's one of the things that makes you unique and who you are and it's definitely not anything to be ashamed about.
What's the #1 tip you could give to kids with food allergies going back to school? Comment below!